With the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday, the Last Word on Sports NFL department is looking at the top three needs of each team heading into draft weekend. Today, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in focus.
The Jaguars have yet another top ten pick. However, there hasn’t been a consensus choice for the fourth overall pick amongst media and fans this year. There are a variety of options that general manager Dave Caldwell and vice president Tom Coughlin could explore and after spending big in free agency once more, Jacksonville could finally put a treacherous decade behind them with another solid draft class.
Jacksonville Jaguars 2017 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs
Despite spending big in free agency once again, the Jaguars seem to be making a habit of neglecting needs on the offensive side of the ball. Additions like A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell and Barry Church have put the finishing touches on what was already a top-six defense. However, there are still too many question marks on offense to labeling this team a true contender in the AFC South. Right now, there is no question mark bigger than the offensive line.
This was the year to go out and find a true difference maker at offensive guard in free agency. Instead, the Jaguars elected to dismiss needs across the offensive line altogether. Other than a trade for the former Miami Dolphin tackle Brandon Albert. With Luke Joeckel going to the Seattle Seahawks, there is little to no depth at the guard position going into 2017
This need has to be addressed in the first two rounds of the draft. Finding high-quality starters to help the Jaguars re-establish a very uninspiring run game should prevent them from struggling to score points again next season. Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) is a serious consideration at four – or potentially someone that could be traded back for. Dion Dawkins (Temple) is somebody who Caldwell could target in the second round in order to add more interior protection.
Whilst a lot of scouts have argued that there is a lack of top end offensive line talent this season, it makes no sense for the Jaguars to wait for the latter rounds to pick up offensive line help. As the current line is not good enough to win consistently.
Whilst the Jaguars added Bouye in free agency, allowing Prince Amukamara to walk left only two outside corners. In a pass first league, adding another starting caliber corner to that dynamic tandem will elevate Todd Walsh‘s defense to an elite level. Especially when coupled with a stronger pass rushing presence than was seen in 2016.
Targeting someone in the third round would probably make the most sense for Caldwell. As there will be a higher chance of finding someone who can develop into something truly special. Walsh won’t be asking whoever is selected to be challenging for a starting role right away. But, given time a player such as Fabian Moreau (UCLA) or Adoree’ Jackson (USC) could become a mainstay in a feared Jaguars secondary.
There’s an argument for both EDGE and tight end here, but a reliable three-down running back will do wonders for the misfiring Jaguars offense. Especially if they address the need for offensive linemen early. The addition of Chris Ivory last year didn’t have the desired effect, struggling with consistency and turnovers in another injury plagued campaign.
It remains to be seen as to whether Ivory can turn into the feature back that he was brought in to be and so it makes sense to take advantage of such a deep running back class. Backs like Marlon Mack (USF), Kareem Hunt (Toledo) or perhaps Samaje Perine (Oklahoma) would make excellent options in the fourth round to try and initiate some competition during training camp – once the aforementioned needs have been suitably addressed.